Electronic Wills consultation fails to address key issues, says ILM

The Institute of Legacy Management (ILM) has voiced concerns that a recent consultation into updating Wills legislation for the digital age has failed to address the “considerable” impact that modern technology is already having on Will-writing.

The consultation itself has already faced much criticism in terms of how far digital communications can be considered valid Wills.

However, senior figures at the ILM have voiced concerns of a new nature – arguing that the consultation itself does not go far enough to address exactly how far modern technology has already affected the probate process.

Chris Millward, Chief Executive of the ILM, said that the Commission needed to acknowledge the fact that “people writing Wills online” was already a “growing trend.”

He said that the Law Commission must give “considerable consideration” to this before the power is granted for electronic Wills to be fully introduced.

In its response to the consultation, the ILM has raised concerns that the impact of technology ought to be thoroughly assessed in order to determine how “technical obstacles can be overcome” so that “essential safeguards and standards” can be enforced prior to the introduction of such Wills.

Mr Millward said: “Our members are already seeing the consequences of Wills made online, and as we become more reliant on technology, this is likely to increase.

“There is a risk of badly drawn-up Wills resulting in donors’ final wishes being frustrated, and failing, meaning charities and their beneficiaries miss out on vital support. The introduction of fully electronic Wills would complicate the process further.”

He said that the Commission needed to identify a way to “embrace technology” while ensuring that electronic “Wills are legally robust and vulnerable people are protected.”

The ILM also criticised the fact that the Commission had so far failed to “specify a timeline or the level of public consultation” required before such radical changes could be truly considered.

The Institute said that the issue may require a whole other consultation, which would need to involve proposals for tighter regulation and standardisation for electronic Wills.

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